A client obtained his U.S. Lawful Permanent Residence through marriage, and entered the U.S. to begin living with his wife. Unfortunately, the client and his wife separated and the client moved to another state. Because the client had been married less than 2 years at the time he entered the U.S. with his U.S. Lawful Permanent Residence, he received a “conditional” or 2-year “green card.” Although he was required to file to remove conditions on residence 90 days prior to the expiration of his “green card,” the client came to our office several years after his card had already expired.
The client did not have continued communication with his ex-wife, had already divorced her, and had been kicked out of the home with limited documentation after only residing with his ex-wife for about six months.
Two years of “conditional resident status” are given to immigrants whose marriage to their U.S. spouse was less than two years old at the time they were approved for U.S. residence (by USCIS) or entered the U.S. after receiving an immigrant visa from a U.S. consulate.
At the end of this conditional period, a “conditional” LPR must seek to remove those conditions by filing a Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. There are two major ways to file: (1) a Joint Petition based on your continued marriage to your U.S. Citizen spouse, or (2) a “waiver” petition if you are no longer married to your spouse.
(1) Joint Petition Based on Valid Continuing Marriage
You and your spouse must file this Application together with proof that you are in a bona fide marriage. This documentation is similar to the documents you showed to obtain your “green card.” USCIS has this requirement to find and prevent fraudulent marriages. Common documents for the Form I-751 petition are:
- Birth certificates of children born to the marriage (these are an especially strong form of evidence).
- Documents showing joint ownership of assets or properties, such as insurance policies, tax returns, checking, savings, and investment accounts, and tax returns.
- Documents showing joint debts and liabilities, such as credit card, car loan, and utility bills.
- Apartment leases or home mortgages from places you have rented or owned as a couple.
- Affidavits from two people who know both you and your spouse personally and can affirm that your marriage is the real thing. (This needs to be detailed, containing information on who the person is, the person’s address, how they know you, and how exactly they’re able to speak to the validity of your marriage.)
If you are no longer marriage (which was the case with this client), you must file a “waiver” petition withoutyour spouse. Although you do not have to be divorced from your spouse at the time of filing, you must be divorced for USCIS to grant this waiver.
We worked with the client to obtain records from a variety of sources. Using creative thinking, we found numerous sources of “proof” that the client had not previously thought of. We received an initial extension of the LPR status for a period of one year automatically after filing, and were eventually called for an interview in New York, NY. Not all cases are scheduled for interviews, and your case may be granted without an interview.
In preparation for the interview, we assisted the client in gathering even more evidence in support of the marriage, and even reaching out to his ex-wife to obtain a letter of support that confirmed his bona fidemarriage. This letter, combined with the other proof and careful preparation with the client yielded a positive result and the client’s Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence was approved.